“Ambulance” is a high-energy, high-octane roller-coaster ride with some quality actors careening down the streets of LA in said emergency vehicle. The plot asks you to completely turn off your brain and focus on the screen — so you view the motion and feel the emotion. This movie is directed by Michael Bay. He continues to show that he must have an unofficial catch phrase: ‘The Secret to Success is Using Too Much Excess”.
Will Sharp (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is a Black Iraq war veteran with medical needs that far outweigh his current position in life. He has a wife who needs things that insurance won’t cover. But he also has an adopted brother, from when a White family took him in many years ago. Danny Sharp (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) is a smooth-talking, fast-thinking con man and bank heist expert. Danny is like his dad, who was known for knocking off banks like they were corner lemonade stands. Danny has a job offer, and Will is in no position to refuse.
Danny now has Will, and he has an odd-ball collection of East Coast thugs-for-hire. They are focused on a downtown Los Angeles back that will have a once-in-a-lifetime score. It is a Federal Trust back, getting a huge transfer of dough to the West Coast. The boys plan to get in and get out with no fuss and no muss. Just a whole lot of duffle bags of crisp Benjamins, all in neat little stacks. But there is a pesky street cop named Officer Zach (played by Jackson White). He wants a date with a pretty teller.
Of course, the heist goes all wrong, and Officer Zach gets shot. All of the other hired hoodlums get caught and captured, but mostly dead. Only Danny and Will are left, when an ambulance comes into the garage to get Office Zack. The driver gets jumped by Danny and Will, so they take off with the emergency vehicle. But Zach and a female EMT, named Cam Thompson (played by Eiza González) are in the back. She does not want to lose her patient, but she is very annoyed that she has been hijacked.
The police on the scene are led by Captain Monroe (played by Garret Dillahunt). He knows there is a Brother in Blue aboard that ambulance. So, there is a long street chase that is about to happen — but there will be no drastic measures taken against the getaway vehicle. Will is driving and Danny is busy making plans that will change within minutes. Cam needs some help with Officer Zack, so sometimes Danny will assist. But when emergency surgery is required (say what now?) it is Will that comes in to help.
Along with Captain Monroe, there is a local FBI Agent Anson Clark (played by Keir O’Donnell). He once went to college with Danny Sharp. So the two of them (Anson and Danny) have a little bit of common history. But Danny is planning a sneaky maneuver that ensures their safe getaway with the loot. Only he will have to make a deal with the deadliest East Side Street Gang in LA. Oh yeah, he will also have to pony up half of the stolen cash.
Like everything else that Danny has touched today, there are things that go horribly wrong. The normally stead-fast soldier is pushed to his breaking limit. EMT Cam is stressed out beyond all reason and she could go off at any point. Officer Zack looks surprising healthy for a gut-shot policeman with a ruptured spleen. But what will happen to this group of dangerous strangers, forced together for a deadly escape? How has this ambulance not run out of gas yet, or perhaps, it actually does at the end…
“Ambulance” is a trademarked “Michael Bay Movie™”. That is because this movie has the swoopy camera work, the fast cars and heavy artillery, and the massive explosions that give it the typical ‘Loud and Proud Bayhem’ quality. The quality acting is an extra cherry on top of a spectacularly explosive banana split. The illogical plot does not matter, when all you want to do is run and gun and turn up the volume!
Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II team up with very good performances, and these two work well off each other. Eiza González also gets a decent role, playing a down-to-business EMT that gets stressed to a breaking point. There is good amount of humor in the script, but the movie could have been around 30 minutes shorter. The whole ‘emergency surgery’ part seems out of place. Then the ‘meet up with Cartel Gang’ does not add too much more, either.
“Ambulance” is the typical bombastic, plastic, yet fantastic, summer popcorn-munching blockbuster that you expect from Michael Bay. It’s a shame that the story runs out of gas before the movie ends…
Directed by: Michael Bay
Written by: Chris Fedak
Based on “Ambulancen” by: Laurits Munch-Petersen, Lars Andreas Pedersen
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eiza González, Jackson White, Garret Dillahunt, Keir O’Donnell
Cinematography: Roberto De Angelis
Edited by: Pietro Scalia
Music by: Lorne Balfe
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release date: April 8, 2022
Length: 136 minutes
MPAA rating: R for intense violence, bloody images and language throughout
Genre: Action Thriller